This website describes the history of how Manchester built Europe’s first Gay Centre. This was conceived as a walking tour created as a fringe event of the LGBT History Festival 2015, held in Manchester.


To ensure the story does not get forgotten, all the information provided on that original walking tour is available on this blog. If you would like to go on the walk yourself all you need to do is download the tour guide text: LGBT Centre History_We were Born in the 80s_TOUR GUIDE, and get yourself over to Albert Square in front of Manchester Town Hall and get reading!

This 1 hour walking tour follows the story of how Manchester became the first places to have an entirely publicly funded, purpose built centre for the gay community. It follows the money, as it were, from the Town Hall to Canal Street and then to Sidney Street and one of the city’s most diverse urban blocks, home to an evangelical church and conference centre, a plethora of fast-food takeaways and a pub, Manchester’s Islamic Centre, a vegan wholefoods cooperative as well as the LGBT Centre!

The story is one of unlikely success in the face of the public funding landscape, some hostile political foes and an infamous petition signed by 147 people. It is also one which perfectly shows the change in public sector funding from the 80s to the present day. Above all, it is a heartening story of community spirit and perseverance. The LGBT Centre is always on the look out for supporters, for more information about them see here.

Suggested Start Location: Manchester Town Hall main entrance, Albert Square

Length: This tour will take around 1 hour at an average walking pace.

Finish Location: LGBT Centre, Sidney Street Café (for tea and cake!)


More information: If you have any queries or want to know more, please contact Emily Crompton on twitter@emilyonabike. Emily also runs this tour annually, on the anniversary of the centre’s opening 27th Nov. Check back for here for future dates.

Blog: To read about the history take a look at this blog post on Queer Beyond London by Emily Crompton.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

This means you can share, copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format as long as you give appropriate credit/ provide a link to the licence. It must not be used for commercial purposes, and you may not make derivatives or distribute any modified material.

Author: Emily Crompton, February 2015. Last updated August 2018.

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